Life / Can Do

Helpful tips to living a better life

Measure Everything

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One of the first steps to getting fit is to measure everything you can related to physical fitness. Just the act of tracking your calories and weighing yourself can kick start the process of losing weight. Knowledge is power and when you know what you are eating, you’ll tend to make better decisions. Also, the number on the scale can be less discouraging when you know you are better off than when you started.

There are number of web sites with mobile apps that can help with keeping track of everything. My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal which has a mobile app I use to track all my data on the go. MyFitnessPal will help you determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the amount of calories you need to consume to maintain your weight. It will also help you determine the amount of calories you need to consume to meet your goal weight.

When thinking about your goal weight, I suggest focusing on a short term goal of losing 5 pounds. You can write down a long term weight loss goal on a piece of paper or electronic storage, but try to focus on the short term on a daily basis. Once you lose that 5 pounds you can set another 5 pound weight loss goal. The thought of losing 50 pounds can overwhelm you, but losing 5 pounds at a time means you’ll hit 10 rewarding milestones.

For people starting a health and fitness routine, I suggest that they spend the first week or two just tracking what they eat without restrictions. By doing this, you get a clear indication of how you gained the weight in the first place.

Measure Your Body

Take as many measurements of your body that you need, specifically your waist. If gaining muscle mass is a priority, then you’ll also want to measure your thighs, biceps, calves and chest.

Start tracking your weight by weighing yourself at least once a week. You can weigh yourself on a daily basis, which I prefer to do, but you need to realize that body weight can fluctuate on a daily basis.

Track The Food You Eat

Keep track of everything you eat. Buy a food scale to weigh your portions or use measuring cups. Don’t try to guesstimate portions! Take the time and measure what you are eating and you’ll be surprised at how many calories you are consuming. You don’t have to weigh items that are easy to estimate like apples, bananas, eggs, single serving food packs, etc.

The one type of food that is not as important to measure are vegetables. It’s difficult to gain weight eating vegetables so eat as much as you like within reason. The great thing about vegetables is that they crowd out higher calorie foods. If you fill up on broccoli, you’ll be better able to resist filling up on foods high in carbs or fats.

While the number of calories is the most important measurement, it is also important to know what percentage of carbs, protein and fat you consume. There are different opinions on what the right percentage is but most can agree that carbs should be less than 60% of your total calories – some would suggest as low as 10%. Most will also agree that you should at least 10% of your calories from protein – I personally strive for 20-30% protein.

Again, MyFitnessPal can help with tracking your macro-nutrients. I am not associated with MyFitnessPal in anyway – it’s just the tracking tool I use and know. There are other tools out there, but I don’t know them enough to make recommendations.

Track Your Exercise

Exercise does not burn as many calories as most people believe. The real benefit of exercise is that it helps you maintain weight loss. If you are significantly overweight it is crucial for you to accept the fact that you will need to exercise for an average of an hour per day for the rest of your life. Let’s put that in bold:

People who are or were significantly overweight will need to exercise an average of an hour per day for the rest of their lives in order to maintain weight loss.

For most people, that can be a bitter pill to swallow. Most think that just need to diet and exercise until they lose the weight and then they can go back to a normal life. It doesn’t work that way. Once you return to the same habits, you will gain back the weight and then some.

If you haven’t exercised regularly before, it can very difficult to start exercising an hour per day from the start. But don’t worry – you don’t have to exercise that much to start losing weight. The hour per day exercise is a long term habit goal that you should work towards over time. It may take months before you have developed the habit and made adjustments in your life to exercise an hour per day. By the time you get to that point, you’ll have made amazing progress in your weight loss and fitness goals.

Even if you start with only 10 minutes of exercise per day, if you do it consistently you’ll be able to add another 5 minutes, then another 5, then another until you have reach your hour per day goal. It is important to note that the goal is an average of an hour. You may need to miss days of exercise so to compensate, you may need to exercise even more than an hour on some days.

Don’t stress out too much about the hour per day rule. Over time exercise can become somewhat addicting. Most people with a high level of fitness have to worry about overdoing it more than not doing enough. Trust me – you’ll love the benefits of exercise so much you’ll want to do more than you need.

To track the amount of exercise you do, buy a stopwatch. Also helpful is a pedometer. With a pedometer, the focus is on number of steps which can be more motivating than time. If you know you can comfortably do 10,000 steps per day, you might get the urge to shoot for 15,000 steps per day.

Conclusion

I know there are experts who say that you don’t have to measure to get fit and healthy but studies have shown it helps (see WebMd: Keeping Food Diary Helps Lose Weight). One big contributor to weight gain is lack of knowledge or misinformation. You see a loaf of whole wheat bread and you may believe that has to be good to eat. But when you know the amount of carbs in even whole wheat bread, and you know you have already consumed too many carbs for the day, you can make a more informed choice. Depending on your food intake at the time, 6 ounces of steak may be healthier than a bowl of oatmeal.

 

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Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 22, 2014 at 9:54 am

Posted in Fitness, Life, Self Improvement

Tagged with , , ,

One Response

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  1. This is great information thank you!

    Tina Del Buono, PMAC

    February 22, 2014 at 10:03 am


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